hair · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

De-emphasis on Race in Adoption Is Criticized

I uncovered this NY Times article from May in my inbox, “De-emphasis on Race in Adoption Is Criticized.” Though it has no Jewish slant, I thought it presented some interesting points on race and cultural issues in Jewish adoptions. Though I should point out, that I have recently enjoyed many articles that have highlighted the ways that white Jewish adoptive parents of children of color emphasize the heritage of the adopted child’s birth parents as well as the adopted Jewish heritage.

Shannon Gibney, right, who is biracial and was adopted by white parents, found validation in an adoption study.

Here’s an interesting quote from this article:

“Many transracial adoptees say they struggle to fit in among their own family members. Shannon Gibney, 33, a writer in Minneapolis who describes herself as biracial, was adopted by a white couple who tried their best by providing things like books by black authors.

“But having books and other things about blacks is no substitute for actual experience,” Ms. Gibney said. “When I had questions about even little things like how to wear my hair, there was no one around to help me with my questions.”

Gibney’s comments reminded me of Brad Pitt’s much publicized quote in a 2006 issue of Esquire where he discussed how he deals with the hair of his (African) daughter’s Zahara: “For white people who might be having a little trouble with black- person hair, Carol’s Daughter is a fantastic hair product. We got it for Z. Now her hair has this beautiful luster. And it smells nice, too.”

2 thoughts on “De-emphasis on Race in Adoption Is Criticized

  1. Well I can certainly speak to this as frequent “AH” readers know I’m the parent of a little boy, now 7, who was adopted from Guatemala.I think my wife and I have done a better job of giving over to our child his grafted Torah Jewish heritage than re-inforcing his Central American roots. Nevertheless we’ve shown him pictures of Guatemala, I’ve taken him to Hispanic neighborhood festivals in our community (which he loves and is quick to pick up on the “other brown people here like me!”), and Guatemalan Independence Day is a special day in our home. I’ve also pushed his day school to be more open to diversity which I reckon is why I got drafted to serve on the Principal’s Council this year. In addition, we’ve gone to “Stars of David” events, which is a support group for Jewish families that adopt children. So diversity in this situation is a journey that you just keep working on.


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